Palestine. More than ‘just’ divestment. Upping
the ante to break the Israeli death grip

by Zeev bin Natan      <zbn55@lycos.com>

March 2, 2005

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Discus/2005-03-02.htm

      In his article, “Palestine Now; Permanently Crippled and Controlled” [1] Zeev bin Natan argues that “Sharon and his cabal of generals will do everything in their power to eviscerate the Mazen presidency and ensure its failure.” Natan then proposes various possibilities for grassroots activism, all of which I think are well worth pursuing. Although he has emphasized these actions as being appropriate for anarchists (that’s how he identifies himself), in fact they are proposed on the assumption of the basic decency of ordinary people, regardless of our particular ideological beliefs, and are thus suitable actions that anyone can take. They envision a real, humane solution to end the struggle in Israel/Palestine, one that will come “from below” – from the grassroots and not from the manipulations and power-oriented displays of the oligarchies that still control the lives and try to smother the hopes of all of us who want to achieve a better world for all peoples.
      I am posting here roughly the second half of Natan’s Slingshot article, slightly altered. –George Salzman

What can stateside anti-authoritarians do?

1. For starters, lend critical support to the minimal program for an Israeli military withdrawal as laid out by Gush Shalom.[2] These are short-term demands which no Israeli political-military élite, intent on furthering the long-term national Zionist agenda of Control of all of Palestine, can accept. They include:

a) Complete cessation of the construction and extension of settlements, now going on throughout the West Bank;
b) Dismantling of all the ‘unauthorized settlement outposts’;
c) Total cessation of the manhunt against the ‘wanted Palestinians,’ their assassinations and detentions and the nightly invasions of the Palestinian towns and villages;
d) Removal of all the roadblocks, which deny free movement to the Palestinians and strangle the Palestinian economy;
e) Release all Palestinian political prisoners in Israel, including Marwan Barghouti and Husam Hader, members of the Palestinian Legislature.

The colonial Control agenda dictates the way the Israeli leadership, across the Zionist political spectrum, plays the game that will, they hope, end in the de-Palestinization of all of the land.

2. Publicize and support the continuing work of Mustafa Barghouthi. Not to be confused with Marwan Barghouti (a distant second or third cousin), Mustafa is a radical democrat who believes in the power of mass non-violent resistance.He is also the one opposition candidate with a substantial following in the Palestinian political and public arena. As Abbas’s main opponent in the Jan. 9 poll, he garnered nearly 20 percent of the vote. As long as Marwan Barghouti remains imprisoned, Mustafa is the best alternative on the democratic left. We ought to familarize ourselves with his organization, the Palestine National Initiative (PNI), (its Arabic name, Al Mubadara), founded in 2002. A noted physician, he is head of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, and director of HDIP, the Health, Development Information and Policy Institute based in Ramallah, a grassroots formation bringing together over 90 Palestinian NGOs. Al Mubadara’s online journal is The Palestine Monitor.[3] Mustafa has been an outspoken critic of Arafat and the PLO old guard. The PNI has been in the forefront of non-violent direct action against the Apartheid Wall.

3. We also need to better understand the huge popularity enjoyed by Hamas, which combines militant resistance with social welfare and an entire supplementary kindergarten and school system. This much maligned movement, which is deeply rooted in the people rather than in a political party, is worth studying.[4] In some respects Hamas is a concrete realization, in occupied Palestine of ‘dual power’ in the absence of a ‘state.’[5]

4. Add your weight to the economic boycott of Israel by supporting boycott [6] and ‘divestment’[7] initiatives. In Israel itself, Conscience (Matzpun)[8] is campaigning for an international boycott of Israeli goods in an effort to put pressure on the Israeli government and Israeli electorate where it hurts, namely in the pocketbook. As Matzpun notes: "We call on the world community to organise and boycott Israeli industrial and agricultural exports and goods, as well as leisure tourism, in the hope that it will have the same positive result that the boycott of South Africa had on apartheid. This boycott should remain in force as long as Israel controls any part of the territories it occupied in 1967. Those who squash the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians must be made to feel the consequences of their own bitter medicine." An excellent site for ideas and links on boycotting Israeli goods is in the March 2005 issue of The Palestine Monitor.[9]

      Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh (Yale University), a radical Palestinian democratic rights activist, who advocates a single secular democratic state for Jews and Arabs, full right of return for refugees – and is an outspoken supporter of Mustafa Barghouthi and his organization Al Mubadara (The Palestinian National Initiative) — has noted that “occupation and oppression require money to maintain . . . Targeting all sources of money by political action and economic boycotts is thus a very effective way of resistance.”[10] His online Activist Manual is a good source for everyone interested in organizing grassroots resolution of Israel/Palestine conflict.[11] Mazin has long argued for the need for a large-scale movement of massive non-violent civil disobedience in the Occupied Territories.

5. Mazin Qumsiyeh is also the founder of the Palestine Right to Return Coalition (Al-awda), which has a very active chapter in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are also active Al-awda chapters in Los Angeles and San Diego, and across the nation. They would welcome your input and solidarity.[12]

6. Join the struggle against the Israeli military. One way is to support Israeli soldiers who are refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories or who are ‘breaking the silence.’ The organization Refusing for Israel needs international solidarity, take a look at their principles, work and call for signatures.[13] A revealing article where IDF soldiers talk about their experiences and what it did to them is “We Acted Without Thinking, Like Zombies”.[14] There are harrowing testimonies by soldiers at the site Shovrim Shtika/Breaking the Silence.[15]. An extraordinary largely women’s organization fighting the militarization of Israeli society, consciousness and education is New Profile, also worth checking out.[16]

7. Join the worldwide fight against the Great Wall of Palestine. The Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign is a good place to begin.[17] You can join the Yahoo listserv of the group Anarchists Against the Wall.[18] Activities by Israeli anarchists, frequently being arrested these days on the front lines of resistance against land grabs and extensions of the Wall, are reported regularly by Ilan Shalif and others.[19] Also revealing is Aaron Lakoff’s recent interview with Israeli anarchist activist Yossi, ”Being Young, Queer, and Radical in the Promised Land”.[20] It’s an eye-opener.

8. In attempting to build a strong pro-Palestinian movement in the U.S., consider the positions as laid out by the New England Committee to Defend Palestine. Perhaps the most radical viewpoint on the path forward voiced by an active group in the United States, they envision a unitary one-state solution for Arabs and Jews: "The Two-State Solution is not just. It is no solution to the turmoil in historic Palestine because at its core it does not undo any wrongs. It is unjust because it is premised on the continued acceptance of the Zionist claim to at least three quarters, if not all, of Palestine as being the exclusive land of the Jews. It is fundamentally flawed as it denies Palestinians the Right of Return; it abandons the Palestinians living within Israel; it does not provide Palestinians any semblance of an independent sovereign state and it allows the US to maintain its role as the main imperialist occupier of the entire Middle East".[21] Central is their demand for an end to all U.S. aid to Israel now — military, economic, and political. That call stateside can be a primary focus in all anti-authoritarian campaigning for a just solution.
_______________________________

[1] “Palestine Now; Permanently Crippled and Controlled”, February/March 2005 issue of the San Francisco Bay area anarchist journal Slingshot, not yet available on line. The site is http://slingshot.tao.ca/displaybi.php?0085001.

[2] Gush Shalom statement, “Without serious steps to end the Occupation no ‘window of opportunity’”, at http://gush-shalom.org/pr/pr13-1-2005eng.html.

[3] The Palestine National Initiative website is at http://www.almubadara.org. Links to some of Mustafa Barghouthi’s articles are at http://www.palestinemonitor.org/archives/Article_archives_04.htm. Worth particular note is the March 2004 interview at http://www.palestinemonitor.org/mustafa/hope_out_of_ramallah.htm.

[4] See Beverley Milton-Edwards and Alastair Crooke’s article, “Elusive Ingredient; Hamas and the Peace Process,” 25 Aug 2004, MIFTAH (The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy), at http://www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=4591&CategoryId=21.

[5] Some knowledgeable comments that strongly affirm the maturing constructive social importance of Hamas are in a statement by Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj of the excellent grassroots group Gaza Community Mental Health Project (GCMHP). Published in the Washington Post on Sunday, February 13, 2005 on Page B02. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18479-2005Feb12.html. The GCMHP website is at http://www.gcmhp.net/. This note by G.S.

[6] A “Boycott Israeli Goods” (BIG) website is at http://www.boycottisraeligoods.org/.

[7] The movement for ‘divestment’ refers to organized efforts to remove investments from companies that do business that supports the Israeli government’s efforts to crush the Palestinian people. For example, the ongoing campaign to have Caterpillar stop selling special military bulldozers for Palestinian house demolitions to Israel. Links to some recent ‘divestment’ news are at http://www.matzpun.com.

[9] An excellent website with ideas and links for boycotting Israeli goods is at http://www.palestinemonitor.org/new_web/boycott_cover.htm.

[10] For information on the effectiveness of boycotts, see http://qumsiyeh.org/boycotts/ . For more information on the work of Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh, see http://qumsiyeh.org/home/.

[11] Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh’s online Activist Manual is at http://qumsiyeh.org/activistmanual/.

[12] The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (Al-awda) site is at http://www.al-awda.org/, and the San Francisco chapter site is at http://al-awda.org/sanfrancisco/.

[13] Support for Israeli soldiers refusing service in the occupied territories is advocated by the group, Refusing for Israel, whose site is at http://www.seruv.org.il/english/.

[14] Israeli soldiers’ statements in “We Acted Without Thinking, Like Zombies” (“Chen Kost-Bar, “Pa’alnu bli lahshov”) published in Ma’ariv, 11 Jan 2005, available at http://www.qumsiyeh.org/likezombies/.

[15] Testimonies by soldiers in the Breaking the Silence website at http://www.shovrimshtike.org/files.asp/.

[16] A women’s organization, New Profile, opposing the militarization of Israeli society, with a site at http://www.newprofile.org/.

[17] The Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign website is at http://www.stopthewall.org/.

[18] Anarchists Against the Wall site: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/againstwall/. A recent report on some of their actions in late Feb. 2005 is at http://www.ainfos.ca/en/ainfos15941.html.

[19] Israeli anarchist activities are regularly reported at http://www.ainfos.ca.

[20] The interview, “Being Young, Queer, and Radical in the Promised Land” is at http://aaron.resist.ca/?q=node/33.

[21] Lana Habash and Noah Cohen, “Zionism is the Issue: Building a Strong Pro-Palestinian Movement In the US,” 11 Jan 2005, at http://www.onepalestine.org/resources/articles/Zionism_Is_Issue.html.


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